October 13th, 2012
06:26 PM GMT
Chicago (CNN) – The first clue was in the window. The Obama-Biden poster told me that the Old Ale Town House in Chicago was not going to be a bastion of neutrality. But it got more extreme inside. There we were greeted by a subversive scene of anti-Republican sentiment. Every inch of wall space in this self-styled dive bar, with its local draft ales and a musty sense of history, was covered in bawdy caricatures of famous Republicans. In pride of place above the bar was a naked Sarah Palin, standing proudly on the skin of a polar bear and brandishing a rifle. But considering all this obvious partisan sentiment, the two dozen or so patrons who settled down to watch the vice-presidential debate were remarkably well behaved.
In fact the decorum was so immaculate they didn't even cheer when Joe Biden landed a blow on Paul Ryan. Anyone who did breach the peace was quickly shushed by a choir. For 90 minutes they listened. They pondered. They drank. And only at the end did the cacophony of political discourse get under way. Obama was being robbed of the election. The Republicans were lying. Biden had smashed it out of the park. Ryan looked like a schoolboy. The country was being unfair to Chicago's favored politician. Yes the language got fruity when a lone Republican voice suggested the president was to blame for America's woes.
But they listened. And then hoped hell and damnation would be visited upon his head. Above all, I really enjoyed watching the debate at the Old Town Ale House. It gave me a taste of what this election is about – worried Americans who are questioning where their country is heading.